managing staff absence

The Ultimate Guide To Managing Staff Absence

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Regardless of size, location, or type, employee absence is an inevitable occurrence for almost every type of company out there. Of course, there are many valid reasons for an employee to be absent from work. However, sometimes it can go from being a minor inconvenience to a problem. And when staff absence becomes excessive, its impact can be wide-reaching.

Chronic absence at work can negatively affect your productivity, morale, and company finances. Hence, it is important to manage it effectively. Ultimately, it’s up to you as an employer to make the process of managing staff absence as painless as possible. Creating a staff absence policy that is both fair and coherent can help you deal with what can end up becoming a difficult situation. That being said, here are a few tips to keep in mind that’ll help you in effectively managing staff absence.

Design an effective absence management policy

An absence management policy is one of the sharpest tools you can have in your shed to help make managing staff absences easier.

The aim of an absence management policy is to help reduce employee absence by integrating programs and tools. You need to strike a balance between allowing your employees to take sick leave and have days off for unforeseen circumstances while preventing them from taking excessive time off.   

An ideal absence management policy usually includes the following:

  • What an employee must do if they are unable to work. For instance, who should they tell, by when, and how? Does a text message to their manager suffice? Or, do they need to log into their vacation tracking software and submit a leave request by 9 am?
  • Description of how staff absences are tracked and managed.
  • If they have been off for a long time, what will happen when they return to work. Return-to-work interviews and a mini-onboarding may be required to help them integrate back into the team.
  • How they can access their quota containing important information about their allotted PTO, available sick days, rollover holidays, used vacation time, etc.
  • What happens if they’re frequently absent from work. If excessive leave is taken, then at what point and under what circumstances do you start to take disciplinary action?

Establish a proper leave approval process

We all have that one colleague who decides to take a vacation in the middle of a workweek and leaves the rest of the team to pick up their slack. 

If that’s happened to you and your business has been negatively impacted as a result, then you know the importance of having a clear, written policy about employee leaves. A quick guide to taking leaves is crucial for the sake of your sanity and everyone else around you at work. Furthermore, having staff that clearly knows their company’s leave policy inside out will also save you tons of hassle and time in the long run.

So, make sure your leave policy outlines everything an employee needs to know about taking a leave. Make sure this policy is accessible to them at all parts of their journey. You can incorporate it into the employee handbook, include it in the employment letter, or even give it to new employees during onboarding. The options are endless!

Maintain a positive atmosphere at work

And by this, we don’t just mean a physical space. 

Creating a positive work environment goes beyond the actual workspace to encompass corporate culture and leadership as well. After all, positive work environments have a great impact on employee attitudes, performance levels, and productivity. Research from Deloitte found that 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a positive corporate culture plays a key role in a company’s success. 

In addition to that, creating a positive work environment can also:

  • Boost employee happiness by 33%.
  • Shorten long-term sick leave
  • Enhance productivity, creativity, and profitability
  • Reduce employee turnover by up to 58%.
  • And improve company revenue by an impressive 33%.

With so many benefits, creating a positive work environment should be an essential part of successfully managing staff absence. It’s a great way to invest in your employees and ensure their best performance.

Provide your employees with flexibility

We all have busy lives, and a 9-5 working day isn’t always the most productive work scenario for everyone. 

Having a flexible workplace means being willing and able to adapt to change, especially when it comes to how and when work gets done. Allowing your employees to manage their time and determine their own hours can dramatically decrease staff absence. Trusting your employees to manage their time can make a big difference to absence levels. Hence, it is worth considering implementing as a standard practice.

For example, one of the ways a worker can be flexible is to adjust their work schedules. They can do so by coming in early, staying late, or working on an off day to meet the company’s needs. An employer could do the same by allowing the employee to telecommute or work remotely as per their needs. Both parties will be happier, and you will have nothing to lose. 

Lastly, create incentives for attendance

Movie tickets, gym memberships, gift cards, food vouchers — anything you can think of can serve as a great incentive to maintain attendance at work. 

These bonuses are a great way to incentivize attendance for your employees in a way that doesn’t harm their productivity or cause burnout. HR departments often implement employee incentive programs that award employees for good attendance and offer a variety of incentives and rewards for different levels of commitment. 

After all, employees who have a perfect or near-perfect attendance record show commitment to their jobs and to the companies they work for. The example they offer can inspire an entire workforce and raise the bar for managers concerned about the impact of poor attendance on their company’s bottom line.

In addition to reducing absenteeism, such a policy will also make managing staff absence much easier. What’s not to like about that?